CHRONICLES OF NEHEMIAH(Pt. 4)

“But while all of this was going on, I was not in Jerusalem…Sometime later I…came back to Jerusalem. Here I learned about the evil thing Eliashib had done in providing Tobiah a room in the courts of the House of God. I was greatly displeased and threw all Tobiah’s household goods out of the room. I gave orders to purify the rooms, and then I put back into them the equipment of the House of God”(Nehemiah 13:6a,79a NIV).

GUARD THE TREASURE

Some years had passed since through Nehemiah’s leadership that Israel had recovered a sense of security and dignity by rebuilding the wall of the City of Jerusalem. Through the help of the leadership of Ezra the Teaching priest the Word of God was also restored to the life of the people. But over time another problem arose… Tobiah the enemy of God and His people had gained access to the very House of God. He moved right in and set up residence there. No one seemed to notice or for that matter be concerned…until Nehemiah’s return.

As we have considered, previously, Nehemiah whose name means “JAH-Comforts” represents the person of the Holy Spirit in the midst of God’s people. As a result of Nehemiah having gone away from the City, there developed a lack of spiritual discernment of the tactics of the enemy, Tobiah. This is a lesson for us today regarding the nature of spiritual warfare. The apostle Paul declared “We are not ignorant of the enemy’s devices”(2 Co 2:11b). Once we have gained (or regained) the high ground against the enemy of our soul we must maintain what has been gained in conflict.

Those who would be victorious over all the schemes of the enemy must be vigilant. Even our Lord Jesus was aware that Satan will seek repeated opportunities to prevent the Kingdom of God’s advance. Jesus warned Simon Peter of “Satan asking permission to sift him like wheat”. One of the reasons that many people falter in time of conflict is their lack of alertness; they grow spiritually slack. The prophet Amos warned, “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion”(Amos 6:1).   The writer to the Hebrew Christian warns, “We must pay more careful attention… to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away”(Hebrews 2:1). The imagery is that of a boat that is not properly secured to harbor, resulting in the gentle tide or current slowly but surely causes the vessel to drift away, out to sea.  Again, if only Peter had been alert as Jesus warned him of Satan’s plans to seduce him away from his close fellowship with his Lord, he would not have suffered the heartache of denying him. Further, when the disciples fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsamane, they awoke to the reality that they had betrayed their Lord into the hands of his enemies. Let us not be deceived in this dark hour. We are all capable of betraying our Lord. Self-deception is the worst kind of deception. We can believe others are prone to fail Jesus but “Never us”…”It will happen to thee and thee but not to me” someone observed. We must watch and pray that we enter not into temptation.

GET RID OF TOBIAH’S JUNK

The only sure way that the enemy can’t defeat us is to give him no place in our life. Our Lord Jesus in the most critical hour of his temptation could declare, “The prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me”(Jn. 14:30 NIV). The sense given by this expression “no hold on me” is that there is no ledge or even a place for him to stand in me. There was no legal ground that the enemy could hold over our Lord. Although Jesus faced many temptations…He did not yield to sin.”Tempted in all points like as we are yet without sin”(Heb. 4:15).

There is a time for righteous anger. Like Nehemiah, when we discern where the enemy has gained a place in our life we must rise up and get rid of his junk that he has placed there. Make no place or occasion for his ownership over your life. The apostle Paul wrote, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple”(1 Co 3:16-17 NIV).

A PLACE FOR GOD’S TREASURE

Nehemiah understood that is was not enough that Tobiah and his stuff be removed from the House of God. He must cleanse it and replace those things with the true things of God.  God desires holy vessels in this hour; those who have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and consecrated by the Holy Spirit for His service and use. As a temple of the Holy Spirit we are to be filled with all the hidden treasure of God. This is what God has purposed from the beginning.  When He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world he placed all the treasure of heaven in Him. Paul wrote of this glorious mystery, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” and he further declares of you and I the believers, “and you have been given fullness in Christ”(Colossians 2:9-10a NIV). In the words of the apostle Paul we recognize, “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us”(2 Co 4:7 NIV). We must pray to that “The eyes our understanding being enlightened; that we may know what is the hope of his calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints”(Eph. 1:18).  Let us guard the treasure entrusted to us by the Holy Spirit.

Copyright © Walter Fletcher Jr., 2011. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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